Oregon City businesses, residents brace for restoration project - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon City businesses, residents brace for restoration project

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Willamette Falls (KPTV) Willamette Falls (KPTV)

Half a million dollars will go toward a restoration project in Oregon City, thanks to Oregon lawmakers this week. These funds come after millions of dollars have already been committed to the Riverwalk project near Willamette Falls in Oregon City.

Yevette Kirwin’s business, Nebbiolo Wine Bar, has the music, the food, and of course the wine. But it also has a prime location — downtown Oregon City.

“We left our jobs and jumped in with both feet to build Nebbiolo. We’re family owned and operated," says Kirwin, “I’d like to see Oregon City get on the map.”

At the moment, Oregon City is on several planning and development maps. As the vision of the Willamette Falls Legacy Riverwalk Project unfolds.

“What they need to do, and hopefully they’re thinking about already, is that they need to tie into what’s already downtown, because we are the old Oregon City,” Kirwin explains.

Just down the street from her business— the roaring Willamette Falls.

Surrounded by the remnants of the old Blue Heron paper mill, the 22-acre site was purchased by a private buyer. It's the future setting of what many are hoping will be a major hub, lined with shops, restaurants, and hotels. At the center — the Riverwalk, designed to bring people face to face with the falls.

Over the last few years the project has gained support from the City of Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro, and the state, garnering millions of dollars in funds.

It’s a place some locals consider a hidden treasure of metro area.

“This is one of the best kept secrets. The second largest waterfall in the United States and nobody knows it’s there,” says Lee Kelly, local artist and longtime resident.

Kelly, spends most of his time in Oregon City,

“I came here in ’64,” Kelly recalls.

He says it’s important for people to know more about this historic area.

“Industry has kept people from having any access or knowledge of what’s going on down there since 1829,” Kelly tells us.

But he has a few concerns about the logistics of the restoration project.

“I’m really worried about the lack of funding. More entities need to step up,” Kelly says.

He also worries about the timing of the multi-million dollar project.

“[It will happen] in 50 years maybe, it’s certainly not going to happen in my lifetime,” Kelly explains.

Like many, Lee Kelly knows Oregon City needs some work. But he believes with a lot of planning, and even more funding, others will fall in love with OC just like he did.

“I’ve only gotten fond of Oregon City in the last few years, it’s never been high on my list (chuckles)"

As far as timing, the project is still a few years out. The master plan has been accepted, and now designers are working on the details. Construction is loosely scheduled to begin between 2018 and 2020.

For more information, visit: http://www.rediscoverthefalls.com/

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